Ball State Cardinals Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Ball State season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Ball State Cardinals Preview
Head Coach: Mike Neu, 7th year, 28-41
2021 Preview: Overall: 6-7, Conference: 4-4
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Ball State Top 10 Players | Ball State Schedule
Ball State Cardinals Preview 2022
Ball State is able to get a little greedy now.
After six straight losing seasons, the program pulled off a surprising MAC championship in 2020, and then wanted even more with several of the key parts returning to 2021.
It was a fine year, but after a bowl loss to Georgia State it turned into a seventh losing season in eight years. Now there’s a bit of an overhaul, but there’s still enough around to push for the first time ever with three straight bowl seasons.
The downfield passing game has to be better, the offense has to be more consistent, and the defense has to be more disruptive and stronger at getting into the backfield.
It’s going to be a fight to get to six wins with this schedule and the lack of depth, but after the last few years, it’s bowl game or bust.
Ball State Cardinals Preview 2022: Offense
It should be John Paddock’s quarterback job to lose. The 5-11, 196-pound senior worked behind Drew Plitt for the last few years and has yet to throw a touchdown pass, but he’s been in the system long enough to know what he’s doing. Getting the ball down the field is a must after way too much dinking and dunking.
The smallish Jayshon Jackson and 6-3 Yo’Heinz Tyler form a good 1–2 reciting punch, and and the backs can catch, too.
The running backs are in place if the line can give them room to move. Paddock won’t run all that much, so the ground game is up to leading rusher Carson Steeler in a rotation with Will Jones, who combined for close to 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns. However, the Ball State ground game averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, but …
The offensive line did a decent job in pass protection and from keeping defenses out of the backfield. There’s a good size of experience and size returning with the tackles set, but the interior needing a little time.
Ball State Cardinals Preview 2022: Defense
The defense was okay. It had its meltdowns, but for the most part it was okay against the run. The pass defense had its problems – it allowed 243 yards per game – partly because there wasn’t enough of a steady pass rush.
It wasn’t what the D full of upperclassmen was supposed to do, and now there’s some reworking to be done. Seven of the top eight tacklers were seniors, but …
The top pass rusher is back. DE Tavion Woodward came up with a team-high five sacks with 8.5 tackles for loss, and now he’s the veteran leader of the front three.
Size is a huge concern up front – there isn’t much. 5-11, 298-pound senior Justen Ramsey will work on the nose, and 6-4, 292-pound senior Jack Sape will be on the other side of Woodward. Those two represent most of the bulk.
The back eight might have lost some of last year’s star, but enough are back to not be in total rebuild mode. CB Ameche Uzodinma is one of those seniors who finished in the top eight in tackles last year. He’s back, and so is Malcolm Lee at one of the safety spots after coming up with 50 stops.
The linebacking corps loses top tackler Jaylin Thomas, but it’s in good shape round Clayton Coll, a good inside linebacker who should be one of the team’s leading tackler.